How Cuban artists and collectors responded to George Floyd's murder
Creative freedom and the art of protest have found the Internet as the best space to circumvent censorship and attempts at government control.
Last September, the Cuban government put a "definitive" clamp - or so they thought - on the island's artists, obliging them by decree to register with the Ministry of Culture and request permission to exhibit their work and sell it.
However, creative freedom and social art always find a small hole through which to escape attempts at control and censorship, and thanks to the Internet - very much in spite of the dictatorship of the algorithm - this dissident art has new means of expression.
Following the tragic murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis and the emergence of protests against racist treatment and police brutality in the United States, a platform of Cuban art collectors has opened its virtual gallery during the month of June so that anyone can visit The George Floyd Edition, an exhibition that includes both established and emerging artists, some in good standing with the government and others in direct opposition.
"Although [the virtual exhibition rooms] have been promoted mainly as commercial spaces, now the motivation is different," O.C. Sotelo, one of the founders of Cuba Fine Art Box (CFAB), told EFE.
Sotelo added that the goal of the George Floyd Edition is "to make artists coexist in a simulated space that otherwise they would never have shared physically in 2020, given the context and tensions resulting from political regulation [on the island]."
The exhibition is varied and includes artists like Vidal, "a painter whose work we love and who is not hostile to Cuban state institutions," and dissident activist Danilo Maldonado "El Sexto," who was imprisoned for his work and now lives in the United States.
The reason that the CFAB has dedicated its virtual room to one of the last victims of police and racial violence in the U.S. is "a gesture of criticism to the dynamics that produce events like the one that killed Floyd," they explained in a statement.
They also insist that "this case of hate is related to the intolerance that defines the cultural apparatus within Cuba that represses artists."
For the collectors who are members of the platform, the decree approved last year "was the State's reaction to a very active Cuban art scene at the international level that expresses its heterogeneity towards the institutions and the policy of the Government."
Although the Cuba Fine Box has already announced a second public edition of the salon that will include artists such as Luis Manuel Otero Alcántara, whose work harshly criticizes the government and for which he has been arrested on several occasions, this first edition will feature artists such as Cuban Ángel Delgado, who worked on an installation around the phrase that has become the motto of the revolution: "I can't breath."
To visit the show you only have to access the CFAB website with the password @june2020.